Green Lantern: Mosaic – Part 1
Green Lantern Volume 3 #14 – 17
In the late 1980s, Green Lantern was the next property on DC Comics’ list to retool. The character, as a concept, has existed since the 1940s, but the incarnation at the time was quite different from its the masked crimefighter roots. Since the 1960s, the character had been reframed as a member of an intergalactic space corps using rings powered by will to create constructs. Over the course of twenty years, the title’s lead had been changed from time to time. It’s quite different from most other DC titles, you wouldn’t expect to see other characters taking over the mantle of Superman or Batman (at least not at the time). Hal Jordan was the chief GL, with school gym teacher Guy Gardner popping up for a short run, and then John Stewart, an African-American architect. Stewart is the focus of the Mosaic arc and spin-off series.
John Stewart was introduced in Green Lantern Vol 2 #87 (1971) and was part of an effort by editorial at DC Comics to diversify their white line up of characters. Stewart was a character who bucked authority and had Hal Jordan worried about him being the backup Lantern. Eventually, Jordan and Stewart would come to a mutual understanding and Stewart would pop up from time to time. In fact, he was the chief Green Lantern present in the 50th Anniversary Crisis on Infinite Earths mini-series. This would lead to a significant role in the subsequent Green Lantern Corps ongoing that ran from 1986 to 1988. At that time, Hal Jordan was brought back in his mini-series equivalent to John Byrne’s Man of Steel or Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One.
Writer Gerard Jones penned a duo of mini-series called Emerald Dawn I and II. These would lead into the new Green Lantern ongoing, where Jones dutifully balanced all human and alien Lanterns into his story arcs. Stewart was the victim of a rogue Guardian of the Universe, Appa Ali Apsa, who used his power to transport entire cities from alien words to the Lantern’s former homeworld of Oa. This included two American towns: Greenville, a small Pacific Northwest city, and Hope Springs, a Native American reservation. Once the Apsa was defeated, the Guardians returned to attempt to restore some order to the chaos that occurred in their absence.
This brings us to the four-part “Mosaic” arc, where John Stewart is charged with being the overseer of what is now dubbed “Mosaic World.” Tensions between the conflicting species are escalating, starting with the murder of two humans by a race of beings with an innate expansionist drive. The human Moses Rockwell stirs up the pot the most and incites a number of his fellow citizens to retaliate against their alien neighbors. Stewart is called upon by Rose Hardin, a citizen of Greenville and former lover of Hal Jordan’s. Through this conflict, and their position of being on the side of peace between species, Rose and Stewart develop feelings for each other.
Over the course of the story, Rose allies with Tomar-Tu, an alien whose father, Tomar-Re is ranked among the great heroes of the Green Lantern Corps. They develop a translator to help the disparate races communicate and thereby diffuse the conflict. Rockwell and his people shoot Tomar-Tu and his group, not killing all of them, but charging up the fury of Stewart who has had enough at this point. Stewart is driven into a mad state where he decides that he must act as the lord and overseer of these being that won’t stop killing each other. At one point he bellows, “Because none of you are human. Even you pink and brown bipeds from earth. You aren’t human. You are little bits of madness. Viruses of the Guardian’s madness, infecting his planet. I am your cure.”
The story concludes with Stewart’s discovery that his mind is still haunted by the dead mad Guardian Appa Ali Apsa, and this presence is responsible for his escalating madness. Hal Jordan eventually arrives with new Corps recruits and aids Stewart in locking up the leaders of the various factions causing these problems. Stewart confronts the Guardians about returning these people to their various homeworlds, and they reply that they are going to use this opportunity to study sentient life and see if these beings can prove something noble about it. Stewart is angered but settles into his role as caretaker of this world, keeping an angry eye on the Guardians in their citadel.
This introduction to Mosaic World is deceptively standard for where Gerard Jones is going to take it. The art of M.D. Bright definitely helps in making this a more conventional comic book story. It works into the more extensive ongoing arc of rebuilding the fallen Green Lantern Corps. It also reaffirms some elements of John Stewart’s personality. While Hal Jordan is a hotshot pilot who uses the power ring in a very blunt manner, Stewart is an architect and sees the ring as a tool to be used with precision. This very orderly mindset is at stark odds with the madness slowly being inspired in him by Apsa presence.
Thile this opening arc was not indicative where Gerard Jones was about to take Mosaic World, it is a solid introduction. It’s honestly the best character work I have seen with John Stewart in years. In the current Green Lantern run, Stewart has been retconned into a former Marine, and that portrayal is just not as compelling as the architect angle. As we’ll soon see in Green Lantern: Mosaic, Stewart will be developed into an intensely complex character.